Is the median age in your office 28? Is there some sort of large game table somewhere in the building? Ping pong maybe? Do you work within 10 feet of someone and don’t know their names because neither of you has introduced yourselves?
Well, here is your get-schooled, mid-size and open-environment office manners for millennials and/or the socially awkward.
This lesson will be based on the assumption that we all know how to manage a dinner party without making complete fools of ourselves. Sure, maybe you don’t know that the fork at the top of your place setting is the cake fork but somehow you manage. But then you get to your office and all bets are off apparently. If you work for a startup, agency or otherwise small to mid-size office, here are some guidelines for office etiquette you should follow:
1) Greet people. For goodness sakes, you all work in the same space. As you are walking around or pass someone in a hallway, it is not cool to avert your eyes or pretend to be on the phone. I promise you, the nicer person of the awkward passing, thinks you are an asshole. Don’t be an asshole! A “Good Morning” won’t kill you.
2) Be inclusive. If your team is celebrating a birthday, and it’s just your team, then go out and do that shit. I mean there are side rules to this but don’t make it weird for the 10 people left in the office who were jolted out of their afternoon lull by your loud “Happy Birthday!” joy. If you are in an open-environment workspace and invite a desk neighbor for a walk to Starbucks, be considerate of inviting others nearby, if you make a scene about it. You can also offer to bring them back a drink because everyone can hear you invite that one person.
3) Put your phone on vibrate. An explanation should not be needed here.
4) Don’t be a “Mean Girl”. We all love a good instant message chat with a work friend who is sitting 3 feet away, but don’t be obviously talking about the person across from you. Giggle*type*giggle*type*look at each other* giggle*type. Not cool.
5) Microwave Rules. DO NOT microwave/heat up leftover fish meals. The smell of cooked fish travels far and wide in the office. Sushi is acceptable and spares everyone the horrific smell of cooked fish. Don’t burn the popcorn while we are at it, and have enough to share. Popcorn is cheap, and it’s a good chat food. So, get to know someone. Lastly, cover your food with a paper towel or something to reduce splatter. If you do splatter, wipe it up.
6) Don’t be THAT person. Speaking of wiping things up…. Clean up after yourself. Colleagues are not your maids or your moms. Wipe down the interior of the microwave, wipe counters, and wash your own cookware. If you see something, DO something. Don’t just ignore it waiting for someone else.
7) Be considerate of fridge space. There’s nothing worse than opening up the common area fridge and seeing that there isn’t room for one more lunch bag; but there are 30 containers of old take-out and moldy Tupperware. Throw out old/unwanted foods and make sure there is always room for other’s lunches.
8) Pretend you have HR there even when you don’t. Some smaller offices and start-ups don’t have in-house human resources, but that doesn’t mean you should act like a complete buffoon in the work-space. Be considerate of cultures, races, religions, genders, sexuality and everything else at work…. all the way through happy-hour. Take it seriously, and you won’t end up on the wrong side of an accusation or worse.
9) Groom yourself… at home. Do not. EVER. Ever clip your nails in the workplace. Just. Don’t. Also, come to work looking like you are ready to work or workout, but not like it’s time to hit the beach. Dressed down and flip flops on any gender is just no bueno. You don’t have to Barney-up your wardrobe, but definitely you should invest in an iron, do your laundry, comb or style your hair a bit. Coming to work looking (or smelling) hungover or like you rolled out of bed and into the office, is beyond tacky. Don’t do it! That’s what WFH days are for.